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Tipsheet

Leader McCarthy Reveals There's Even More Drama with the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

As I covered Thursday night, the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday passed the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, though it doesn't appear that Democratic House leadership is in any rush to take the necessary steps for it to actually be signed into law. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has yet to send the bill over to the Senate. 

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The bill passed the House 428-1, with 5 members not voting. There's also been bipartisan sponsorship. In the House, the bill was sponsored by Rep. James McGovern (D-MA). Meanwhile, in the Senate, the bill is sponsored by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), who has been particularly vocal about the bill not coming up for a vote. 

According to the House bill's text, its purpose is "Ensuring that goods made with forced labor in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of the People's Republic of China do not enter the United States market, and for other purposes."

In a statement sent exclusively to Townhall, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) revealed that the lack of action from the speaker is even more bizarre, considering several other bills were sent. 

"After months of delay from the House Democrat leadership, this week the House finally passed a bipartisan Uyghur bill that will help crack down on goods made with Chinese slave labor. But for unknown reasons, Speaker Pelosi is once again holding up the bill. On Wednesday the House passed more than 30 bills, but only one was not sent to the Senate for passage – it was the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act. The House leadership must answer a simple question: why do they continue to obstruct progress in taking a stand against slave labor?," McCarthy said.

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While Speaker Pelosi has tweeted bold words, it doesn't appear to have amounted to much action, despite how it is on Pelosi to take that action.

Sending the bill to the Senate would have been particularly timely, as well as necessary and crucial, even. 

Speaker Pelosi herself acknowledged that Friday was Human Rights Day.

More specific news to the plight of the Uyghurs came on Thursday. Chris Jewers for the Daily Mail provided coverage on a report from a London tribunal that found the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) indeed subjected the Uyghur population to genocide. 

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As far as support from the White House goes, the response has been lukewarm, as it has been on other issues to do with calling out human rights abuses in China.

The most vocal White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki has been about the legislation appears to be denying that the White House was lobbying against it, as Reuters reported on December 3, before the bill had been voted on.

As mentioned in that Reuters report, the White House felt the need to respond because of an opinion piece for The Washington Post by Josh Rogin that "Congress needs to act on Xi Jinping’s genocide now."

Rogin wrote:

Meanwhile, Biden administration officials have been quietly telling lawmakers to slow down. Administration sources confirmed that in an October call between Deputy Secretary of State Wendy R. Sherman and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), the other co-sponsor, Sherman made it clear that the administration prefers a more targeted and deliberative approach to determining which goods are the products of forced labor. She also told Merkley that getting allied buy-in was critical and more effective than unilateral action.

“To be clear, the Department of State is not opposing this amendment,” a State Department spokesman told me. “We share the Congress’ concerns about forced labor in Xinjiang.”

In other words, while the administration supports the legislation in public, they are asking Democrats to essentially water it down in private. Sherman’s specific criticism relates to a part of the bill that would require a presumption that all products coming from Xinjiang are tainted by forced labor unless the importer can prove otherwise. This happens to be the exact provision corporations are also objecting to. Maybe it’s a coincidence.

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Rogin has continued to tweet about the legislation.

The Biden administration has shown to be much more committed to achieving a climate deal with the CCP than addressing human rights abuses, with climate czar John Kerry, in particular, dismissing the idea of having any role in handling these abuses.

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